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On Can Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy Learn to Get Along?

Let's please stay focused on the question at hand: can a renewables and nuclear powered electricity system work to achieve ultra-low carbon output?

If you hate  nuclear or you hate renewables, this is not the place to start a debate over the relative demerits of "the other guys." I'd rather the comments thread here didn't descend into another nuclear/renewables flame war. Thanks,

Jesse

April 15, 2014    View Comment    

On How Japan Replaced Half its Nuclear Capacity with Conservation and Efficiency

Also: you're right of course that building new coal plants takes too much time to be an immediate response to the challenge of replacing Japan's nuclear output, and that conservation measures reduced the need for generation significantly. But you also can't ignore the very large increases in LNG and fuel oil consumption post-Fukushima, despite these efficiency gains, and the increases in Japan's CO2 emissions and carbon intensity of energy supply that resulted. The long-term impacts are clearly uncertain: will Japan really want to stay so dependent on very expensive LNG and fuel oil? They must import coal as well, but could it have a long-term cost advantage over LNG and oil? How quickly can renewables ramp up to fill the gap? Or should Japan turn back torwards nuclear for some share of their energy needs, as the current PM seems to forsee? 

April 10, 2014    View Comment    

On How Japan Replaced Half its Nuclear Capacity with Conservation and Efficiency

Hi Justin,

This is a really interesting case study/example for the world to learn from for sure. I'm curious though: how much of the reductions in demand came through what we would generally consider efficiency improvements -- increasing the ratio of productive outputs to energy inputs -- versus conservation -- consuming less, with a corresponding cut in productive outputs? For example, increasing the temperature on the AC to avoid rolling brownouts certainly saves energy, but it also comes at the cost of higher temps. That may just be a lifestyle change people are happy with or adjust to over time, but it generally comes at some kind of real cost. Energy efficiency measures on the other hand look differently. They also tend to take a lot more time to implement, so my guess would be that most of this is actually conservation not what we generally call efficiency. 

What are your thoughts?

Jesse

April 10, 2014    View Comment    

On Friday Energy Facts: Growth in US Hydrocarbon Production from Shale Resources Driven by Drilling Efficiency

TheEnergyCollective.com's publishing team selected this article for publication as we do with all posts here. 

March 17, 2014    View Comment    

On With Dark Clouds on the Horizon, Can Financial Innovation Keep Distributed Solar Shining?

Schalk,

New financing tools for solar are not subsidies. Perhaps you can make the case that an MLP is a subsidy because it reduces tax burden. If so, it's a subsidy available to fossil fuel infrastructure as well. But the other options discussed here and market based approaches to matching risk and reward in project finance. That has nothing to do with subsidy. Securitization lowers risk and thus lowers the cost of capital required to compensate investors for risks. That isn't a susbsidy and it doesn't make solar "artificially cheaper." There is nothing set in stone about the costs of financing solar projects.

Cheers,

Jesse

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March 15, 2014    View Comment    

On Friday Energy Facts: Growth in US Hydrocarbon Production from Shale Resources Driven by Drilling Efficiency

John Krohn and Mike Ford, the authors of this post, are both staff members at the US Energy Information Administration, a division of the Department of Energy. EIA syndicates articles at TEC under a public domain publication agreement. 


 Jesse Jenkins

TheEnergyCollective.com

March 14, 2014    View Comment    

On With Dark Clouds on the Horizon, Can Financial Innovation Keep Distributed Solar Shining?

Well you know what they say: prove it. A working prototype will go do what a million comments on blogs will not: convince us that this is legitimate. Until then, I think you should expect the 2nd Law to keep winning. 

Jesse

March 14, 2014    View Comment    

On With Dark Clouds on the Horizon, Can Financial Innovation Keep Distributed Solar Shining?

The value of solar would be an excellent candidate for your Seeking Consensus column. There is considerable debate on this topic, and I'm not sure you've adequately accounted for the value solar can provide to a system. It is indeed highly system or location contingent. But replacing fuel and the capital at a central station power plant is certainly not the only value solar can provide. 

Cheers,

Jesse

March 11, 2014    View Comment    

On With Dark Clouds on the Horizon, Can Financial Innovation Keep Distributed Solar Shining?

Thanks all for the thoughtful comments.

March 11, 2014    View Comment    

On FERC Affirms Support for Removing Market Barriers to Energy Storage, Other Clean Energy Resources

Hi John,

Markets for ancillary services often have minimum sizes for participation, so as to limit transaction costs. That's why there is a growing segment of "aggregators" who act as intermediaries between many small, distributed providers of ancillary services and the TSO markets. For example, EnerNOC plays this role in capacity markets in the PJM region, where they aggregate large amounts of demand response and bid the aggregate into capacity markets and other ancillary services. PJM then deals with one counter-party - EnerNOC - who in turn must manage the many smaller providers of services they engage with. It's thus on the aggregator, and not the TSO, to manage these many kilowatt-size market participants, and to the TSO, the aggregator looks like one big megawatt-sized provider. 

In addition, I'm not sure that having many small providers is worse for system stability than fewer large providers. In fact, I would assume that many more distributed providers of services would be preferred from a redundancy and reliability perspective, since you have more finer increments of supply on your supply curve and you have less chance of one major provider of supply going offline when you need it. So perhaps the opposite is true: lots of smaller providers of the same aggregate quantity of service is better from a system management perspective, assuming that transaction costs can be minimized and managed (which is the role of the aggregator). Thoughts?

Jesse

March 1, 2014    View Comment    

On FERC Affirms Support for Removing Market Barriers to Energy Storage, Other Clean Energy Resources

John, while the transmission system operator (TSO/ISO/RTO depending on where you are) is ultimately responsible for managing the power system, the terms of contracts for the provision of ancillary services invariably include liability clauses, such that if a contracted provider fails to provide ancillary services, they will be penalized by the transmission system operator (or the courts if necessary). Moving from bilateral contracts to more active multi-lateral markets can also add market rules, competition, and clear penalties for failure to provide these services. Transmission system operators have adequate experience with procuring all kinds of services, from energy to spinning reserves to secondary reserves to frequency regulation to capacity through various market mechanisms or contracting procedures. I think it's a bit of a stretch to imply that opening these markets to new actors undermines the TSO/ISO/RTO's ability to do its job, rather than enhances its ability.

March 1, 2014    View Comment    

On Why You Don't Need Fossil Fuel to Fight Poverty. (Clean Energy Does it Better!)

Paul, I agree 100% with the sentiment that we need to be building scalable, modern energy systems for everyone. I doubt Todd disagrees either. My point is you need to be careful not to put words in other people's mouths. The idea that installing PV systems is tantamount to condeming people to "eat insects" is also pretty laughable. Sorry, but tone down the rhetoric and try to keep this conversation focused on solutions.

Jesse

February 27, 2014    View Comment